International Sweepstakes & Contest Laws That May Cause You Problems

Posted by Jennifer Hibbs on August 20, 2014 in Articles, Consultation, Contests, International, Legal, Promotion Planning, Sweepstakes | 21 Comments

21 Responses to International Sweepstakes & Contest Laws That May Cause You Problems

  1. Luis Vivoni says:

    Thanks for sharing. For information about Puerto Rico regulation on sweeps we can talk. It might be of use as a compliment for your next article.
    Best, Luis Vivoni

    PS: We will have an expert round table in this year’s BAA Marketing Law Conference.

  2. Derrick Tofte says:

    love your stuff

  3. Rhaylan says:

    Didn’t know about this international law in brazil. I’m Brazilian and here is common to award cash as prize.

  4. Rodrigo Baltazar says:

    Ah.. here in Brazil we can receive a knife!…

  5. Juliana says:

    You can’t award cash in Brazil, but companies get around that by awarding financial certificates, like gold bonds or capitalization funds, that are immediately liquid upon receipt. The ads for the sweepstakes only mention that in the fine print, so most people don’t know about this rule. Only the official lotteries may award cash, and all forms of gambling are illegal.

  6. Danette B says:

    Can someone having a giveaway in England, force someone who lives in the U.S. to pay for shipping and handing to receive their winnings?

    • Jennifer Hibbs says:

      Hi Danette — Not sure what the circumstances are so we really can’t comment on that. You should refer to the Official Rules of the program to see what they say. Good luck!

      • Danette B says:

        I was just curious. There are a bunch of giveaways for juice on Facebook. All them state that it’s all free, including the shipping, to America or anywhere else in the world. There is one business that has giveaways but makes people pay shipping outside of the U.K.
        Sometimes they charge you to enter their “giveaways” on Facebook.

  7. danny denman says:


  8. Kevin C Drake says:

    In Canada most US sweepstakes that include Canada specifically write Quebec out of the contest in their rules because they are prohibitive to include them. As a matter of fact most of the contests run from WITHIN Canada exclude Quebec in their rules or run something separate in Quebec. Quebec does the same when they run a contest, it is usually only open to residents of Quebec.

  9. Ben K says:

    I noticed for Sweden, “In Sweden, all games of chance (sweepstakes and instant wins) are banned.”. I’m guessing that applies to a sweepstakes aimed at people in Sweden. If I live in Sweden, and have a sweepstakes aimed at people in other countries, excluding Sweden, would that be OK?

    • Jennifer Hibbs says:

      Any sweepstakes would need to be cleared by your attorney, but they will probably tell you to exclude Sweden and any other countries where sweepstakes are banned.

  10. Nikola says:

    In Russia,if the sweepstakes or giveaway is an item,then are there any problems.

  11. Dina Niron says:

    What about Germany and Spain?

    • Jennifer Hibbs says:

      This list is not meant to cover issues in all countries. If you have specific questions about running a promotion in a specific country, contact us.

  12. rizi says:

    Can I sue a youtuber who does fake giveaways?? I won an iPhone but I was never contacted by him. He lives in Sweden. Can I make him give me the phone? What can I do about it?

  13. Giveaways are confusing says:

    When is a person considered to be “running” sweepstakes in a foreign nation? If the US-based person does not advertise the giveaway outside the US or only promotes it at a certain event…like a Conference or Tradeshow, are they still subject to all other countries rules? For example, if I am giving away an Apple iWatch at a Tradeshow in Chicago, and an attendee, who is a Canadian resident, enters and wins, would they be subject to Canadian rules, then?

    • Jennifer Hibbs says:

      This is why Official Rules are recommended (and legally required!) for every sweepstakes you run. Rules specify which countries your sweepstakes (or “giveaway”) entrants can come from and eliminates any confusion. Per your example, if a Canadian resident was selected as a winner in a US only promotion that had rules, then per the rules that Canadian person would be barred from entering and would need to be disqualified and a US winner selected. Without rules you need to look at your risk which may be low in this example, but you never know when a foreign government may try to make an example out of a brand running an illegal promotion. For more on why rules are important please see our post on the subject at

      • Giveaways are confusing says:

        what if the rules allow for foreign citizens? If I am giving away an iPod at the conference, and someone is at my table and wants to enter, am I then subject to that person’s home country’s rule? Isn’t that akin to a marijuana dispensary in the Netherlands barred from selling to US citizens visiting because it is illegal in the US?

        • Jennifer Hibbs says:

          If you allow foreign citizens to enter then that DOES subject you to the laws of that person’s country in regards to tax reporting, data collection, sweepstakes law, etc. It depends on the country as to which laws apply.

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